A rousing performance of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique completed tonight's London Symphony Orchestra concert at the Barbican with François-Xavier Roth collaborating with the LSO from the podium in a very modern style of conducting, including wearing a grey suit (which showed his perspiration) rather than black tails; also, he didn't use a baton.
All the Brandenburg Concertos, the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582 on the Willis organ in the Albert Hall and - as the grand finale to the 2010 Bach Day at the Proms - the Royal Philhamonic playing Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski and once again the the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582 but arranged by Respighi and played by the Royal Philhamonic Orchestra.
Last night's Prom was the treat of walking from home to the Royal Albert Hall to hear Beethoven and Mahler Symphonies played by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Just the idea of being the idea of being able to walk to such a concert is an enormous treat: the Beethoven's fourth Symphony was one of the first I got to follow in the score, in the recording by Arturo Toscanini which featured highlighted the (then) bassoon virtuoso.
Tuesday 27th July 2010
Last night's Prom was good fun: Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen Prom under the baton of Paavo Järvi with Hilary Hahn as violin soloist in Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major.
Doing those pieces with a chamber orchestra is both a compromise between "original instruments" sound and the gloss of a full symphony orchestra. Modern instruments have more than enough volume to fill a big hall without sacrificing the agility that one instrument per desk gives. So the performances were very fast at times whilst still practically note perfect - I was following the scores - with some very athletic changes in tempi. I'm sure the scholars will continue to debate whether fast speeds are justified but after I had been complaining after our Rotterdam outing that that London performances can sometimes be a bit safe, this was risk taking on the scale of a full Albert Hall Prom, and it paid off.